Almost 4,000 people will be helped into employment after Government, the Mayor of London, London Councils and Central London boroughs signed off the details of an £11m scheme that will aim to help people struggling to find work.
Working Capital will run for five years and test a radical new model to support nearly 4,000 central London residents who claim Employment Support Allowance, (the main out-of-work benefit for people with long term health problems) but have left the national Work Programme after two years without finding long term employment.
Every person supported by Working Capital will receive dedicated help from a multi-skilled case worker who will find out more about the problems their clients are facing, and help them develop a plan of action for getting back into work. Key to that plan has been the agreement of a greater devolution of powers to borough councils for their employment services.
That means the case worker will use existing local council, health and voluntary sector services, but also be able to bring in specialist services such as mental health provision or specific skills training as and when needed. Having greater local control over employment support is an important part of London's aspirations to take on new powers and freedoms from Government. Today's announcement is a clear sign of the capital's ambition and readiness to deliver better outcomes for residents, employers and the UK economy.
The innovative £11m scheme is part of the London Growth Deal and is wholly funded by the London Enterprise Panel's European Social Fund (ESF). Central London Forward are leading the scheme, working in partnership with London Councils, the Mayor of London and central Government. A rigorous independent evaluation will be run throughout the programme and Government has agreed that success could see the approach rolled out further to different groups or areas across London.
London Councils’ Chair, Mayor Jules Pipe, said: “The government’s support for this pilot is welcome recognition of the potential of locally integrated services to help those with multiple health conditions find work. We’re keen to see this approach extended and eventually for employment support programmes to be devolved to London government across the capital.”
Cllr Sarah Hayward, current Chair of Central London Forward, said: "As the engine of the UK economy, it's fitting that Central London is leading the way and showing how people with significant barriers can move into work with the right support. This is a clear step forward in transforming public services in the capital and Central London boroughs look forward to working with Government and across London to deliver real results which will unlock further devolution."
The Mayor of London and Chair of the London Enterprise Panel, Boris Johnson, said: "London's economic recovery must benefit the entire city and that means we need to do our utmost to help every Londoner possible to get into work. This plan has the potential to do just that and I hope it can help strengthen the case for greater devolution of power to the capital."
The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Minister for Cities, said: “Today’s launch of ‘Working Capital’, a key part of London's Growth Deal, marks a significant shift in how employment services for the long-term unemployed are designed and delivered. We continue to back local leaders, giving them the powers and freedoms to transform public services, create jobs and boost prosperity.”
Minister for Employment, Esther McVey said: “Previously too many of the long-term unemployed were ignored, but as part of the Government’s economic plan, we are helping to ensure everyone benefits from the improving economy so they can provide a regular wage for themselves and their families. That includes joining forces with specialist services such as mental health provision or specific skills training to help deliver job support tailored to the people of London”.
Central London Forward is the partnership of the eight central London local authorities: LB Camden, City of London, City of Westminster, LB Islington, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, LB Lambeth, LB Southwark and LB Wandsworth. Central London Forward is hosted by the City of London, which acts as the legal “accountable body” for the organisation.
The procurement exercise being launched today is for a 'managing agent' who will provide and coordinate the case workers across the CLF boroughs. The evaluation is being commissioned separately and will provide a robust evidence base to show the impact that the Working Capital approach is having, compared to the usual level of support provided to this group by Jobcentre Plus.
The London Growth Deal, announced in July, committed central Government to work with London partners to "develop a pilot to enhance support services for Employment Support Allowance claimants who have left the Work Programme without finding work".
The pilot is supported by the London Enterprise Panel's 2014-2020 European Social Fund Programme.
The Leaders of the eight councils that comprise Central London Forward are:
Cllr Sarah Hayward – Camden (Current CLF Chair)
Cllr Nicholas Paget-Brown – RB Kensington & Chelsea (current deputy chair of CLF)
Mark Boleat CC – City of London
Cllr Philippa Roe – City of Westminster
Cllr Richard Watts – Islington
Cllr Lib Peck - Lambeth
Cllr Peter John – Southwark
Cllr Ravi Govindia - Wandsworth